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Doe v. Cook County

June 23, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman Chief Judge, United States District Court



Pending before the court is the "Second Report of the Transitional Administrator Pursuant to the Court's May 8, 2008 Order" (Dkt. No. 530 (the "Second Report")), which outlines progress made by the Transitional Administrator ("TA") in his efforts to bring the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center ("JTDC") into substantial compliance with earlier court orders.

The plaintiff class ("Plaintiffs"), the defendants (collectively referred to as "Cook County"), and the intervenor Teamsters Local Union No. 700*fn1 (the "Union") generally do not object to the benchmarks and updates set forth in the TA's Second Report. However, the Union has objected to the TA's proposal to create new job descriptions for direct care workers at the JTDC and has objected to the TA's proposal to require incumbent direct care workers to "reapply" for these new positions. For the reasons set forth below, the court after full consideration of the matter approves the TA's proposed staffing plan in its entirety.


This class action lawsuit was initially filed over ten years ago on June 15, 1999. Although the case was dismissed without prejudice in December 2002 pursuant to agreement by the parties, the court retained jurisdiction to enforce the court-approved Memorandum of Agreement ("MOA"), the subsequent Agreed Supplemental Order ("ASO"), and the Modified Implementation Plan ("MIP"). (See Dkt. Nos. 71, 136; see also Dkt No. 273, Ex. A (text of MOA), Ex. L (text of ASO), and Ex. I (text of MIP).)

On August 16, 2007, the State of Illinois enacted legislation transferring administration of the JTDC from the executive branch of Cook County to the Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County ("OCJ"). (See Illinois Public Act 95-0194 (effective January 1, 2008).) With the agreement of the parties, the court appointed the TA with the mandate "to bring the [JTDC] into substantial compliance with [the MOA, ASO, and MIP] and, if consistent with Illinois law, to prepare the JTDC for the transition of administrative authority over its operations to the [OCJ]." (Dkt. No. 330 ("Appointment Order") ¶ 1.) Currently, the TA remains engaged in this ongoing assignment, and the transfer of authority to the OCJ has yet to be effected.

In April 2008, the TA sought emergency authorization to retain a private company to provide temporary security staffing at the JTDC. (Dkt. No. 389.) Finding that "the JTDC is dangerously understaffed and that, as a result of this understaffing, the health and safety of the residents is at risk," the court granted the TA's emergency motion and ordered the TA to report in writing "on the conditions and status of the issues raised in the TA's Emergency Motion" within six months. (Dkt. No. 415 ("May 8, 2008 Order") ¶¶ 3, 6.) Accordingly, the TA filed his First Report in November 2008. (Dkt. No. 458.) The Second Report, now pending before the court, "expands upon the issues discussed in the first report and discusses other progress the [TA] has made toward compliance with all of the Court's Orders." (Second Report at 2.)


Since the time of the TA's First Report, the TA has implemented a plan to reorganize the JTDC around the creation of five new resident living "Centers." (Second Report at 4.) Each Center has approximately 50 beds, with more than 30 dedicated staff members who only perform work in the Center to which they are assigned. (Id.) Prior to the implementation of the TA's reorganization plan, the Juvenile Detention Counselors ("JDC") who staffed the old living units at the JTDC were expected to perform "the same work one might expect of an adult jail guard . . . [ensuring that] residents were alive, fed, clothed, in one piece, and brought to court when necessary." (Dkt. No. 557 ("TA's Reply") at 2.) The JDCs who staff the new Centers "are expected to actively engage JTDC residents at all times through implementation of a behavior management program referred to as Cognitive Behavior Training (CBT)." (Id. at 3.) "The CBT program involves teaching JTDC residents a system of techniques to monitor thought patterns, recognize the connections between thinking and behavior, and replace distorted thinking with rational thinking in order to foster more appropriate behavior" through group sessions and oneon-one counseling. (Id. (citing TA's Ex. C (JTDC Behavior Mgmt. Program Staff Manual) at 6-7); see also TA's Ex. E (Proposed YDS Job Description) ¶¶ 3-7, 11.) JDCs in the new Centers are also expected to respond appropriately to crisis situations, understand and follow JTDC policies concerning the use of force and the use of restraints, engage in active observation of resident behaviors at all times, and competently complete all required written reports. (Id. at 8-9 (citing TA's Ex. E ¶¶ 15-22).)

In light of some of the new job requirements expected of direct care workers in the Centers, the TA has adhered to a self-described "unparalleled and aggressive plan to hire and train new permanent employees" at the JTDC. (Second Report at 3.) Accordingly, all newly-hired staff members have completed a structured interview process that includes the use of a "multiple-choice, criterion based" assessment tool known as the "IMPACT" test. (TA's Reply at 4, 10.) The IMPACT test assesses skills and attitudes of direct care workers-testing for both human relations skills and basic literacy levels-and "is widely used and accepted in the juvenile detention field." (Id. at 9-11.) The TA has also ensured that all new hires meet a minimum education requirement, holding at least a bachelor's degree.*fn2 New hires who are in direct and continuous contact with JTDC residents have also received a minimum of 160 hours of training in a newly-created JTDC Training Academy, as well as 80 hours of leadership training in a course prepared for the JTDC by the National Partnership for Juvenile Services and the National Juvenile Detention Association. (Second Report at 3-4.) Approximately 70 incumbent staff members also participated in an intensive full-time training program in preparation for the opening of two new Centers in August 2009. (Id. at 5.) It is the TA's goal to ensure that the new JTDC Centers are staffed by "qualified, trained professionals who have skills to work with troubled and behaviorally-challenged children." (TA's Reply at 3.)

As the TA endeavors to transition the remaining living units of the JTDC into four new Centers, the TA has proposed a plan to ensure that the incumbent employees who will staff the JTDC Centers meet the same standards being applied to newly-hired staff members. First, the TA proposes eliminating the positions of JDC and Recreation Worker, and creating the new positions of Youth Development Specialist ("YDS"), Youth Development Specialist Associate ("YDSA"), and Recreation Specialist. (See Second Report at 18; TA's Attachments A, B, and C.) The proposed job descriptions for the YDS and YDSA positions mirror the current duties and expectations of the JDCs who now staff the newly-established Centers. (TA's Reply at 4; see also TA's Ex. E.) Additionally, these new positions would require completion of the same screening, testing, and interviewing processes currently applied to the JTDC's new hires-with the exception that YDSAs need not hold a bachelor's degree at time of hire, and can instead meet the minimum education requirement by agreeing to complete a bachelor's degree within a certain period of time to be negotiated with the Union. (Second Report at 18.) Under the TA's proposed staffing plan, incumbent staff will also be required to pass the IMPACT test, after which they will be interviewed by "a panel consisting of a bargaining unit representative, a supervisor, and an independent consultant." (TA's Reply at 5 (citing TA's Attachment B ("Overview of JTDC [Proposed] Hiring Process").) YDSAs would remain at the same salary level until the completion of their degree. (Second Report at 18.) After the new positions are in place, all veteran staff members currently in the position of JDC or Recreation Worker will be invited to apply for a position as a YDS, YDSA, or Recreation Specialist while they continue in their present position at their current rate of pay. (Second Report at 18; TA's Reply at 5.) Finally, the JDC and Recreation Worker positions will be eliminated once the new Centers are fully staffed. (TA's Reply at 4.)

The TA estimates that there are approximately 230 JTDC incumbent employees who would be affected by the TA's proposed staffing plan, and that 180 of these employees "are not degreed and [would] stand to lose their jobs" if the AOIC minimum education ...

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